Warhol: A Life as Art

Peter Conrad at Literary Review:

Gopnik humanises the man who pretended to be a monster. In his fey and mother-dominated youth in hard-boiled Pittsburgh, Warhol is actually endearing. He began life in among the murk of the steel mills, where the churches of the eastern European immigrant workers were decorated with holy icons that served as models for his later portraits. He was a self-avowed sissy; his first job was as a shop-window decorator in a local department store, and when he moved to New York he offered himself to advertising agencies as a specialist in drawing female footwear. A college contemporary remembers him as a cuddly bunny, and Gopnik, risking gooiness, repeatedly describes his behaviour as ‘lovely’ and exclaims over the ‘sweet little presents’ he bestowed on friends. What some took to be arrogance was a reflex, Gopnik suggests, of paralysing shyness. Once Warhol’s aloof persona was in place, he claimed not to believe in love, but Gopnik sees in his long trail of failed relationships a thwarted quest for ‘coupledom’.

more here.